Exploring the Flemish Method of Painting

I am not a big social media fan, but one advantage of having an Instagram account is following different artists and learning from them. Visually and artistically, dark values and contrast are appealing to me. I discovered the Flemish method through an Instagram post, did some research and found a great step-by-step tutorial from Carrie Lewis. Here is the link if you are interestedExploring the Flemish Method of Painting

The process involves layers of work: a drawing, then an inked-value study, an umbra layer, a “dead” layer, then several layers of transparent color. This process is generally done with oils and takes a long time, since each layer has to be completely dry before proceeding to the next step. I am currently working on a portrait of St. John Vianney for my son. The color layers are now in process but here are some of the stages:

I was curious to see if the method would translate to digital art, and created this portrait of my granddaughter, using the layered method:

Now, I am going to try that same method in acrylics, as a possible teaching moment for my students. Here is the start of a Nativity painting I am working on, the “dead layer” is in progress:

Update on the Flemish Method: I have found that this method translates well to acrylic and am in the process of finalizing the details (color layers) on the Nativity scene I showed in the previous picture:

I plan to introduce this method to my spring art students when we study different types of painting. The advantage here is that the layers can be dried with a blow dryer, so waiting is not a factor.

Here is my “almost done” version of St. John Vianney. I love how the color just radiates from the piece, and the darks are so saturated. I think that it must be due to the multiple layers, and dead layer underneath, since I noticed the same result in my Nativity painting:

I’ve started a new work of my latest muse, my granddaughter Carmen. My daughter captured Catalina and Carmen in a classic mother/daughter pose one afternoon on our side porch. The lighting of the shot was so beautiful, I had to paint it. Here is the beginning of the painting. I’m working hard on the “dead layer” so that the values are correct before I add the layers of color. The worst part of this method is the waiting!

A final update: Here is the finished work:

The painting was given to my daughter-in-law on her birthday.

Another project completed using the Flemish style of painting took much longer. This piece was a master reproduction, requested by a good friend of my youngest son. It is still waiting to be varnished, but I finally decided it would be “done.”

One thought on “Exploring the Flemish Method of Painting

  1. Elena,

    Thank you for the mention!

    Your work with the Flemish method in different mediums is excellent.

    I look forward to hearing how the oil painting and acrylic painting turn out!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s